Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has been reading Jack Kemp’s Wikipedia page.
Kemp — a former congressman, secretary of Housing and Urban Development and 1996 Republican nominee for vice president — was famous for being a conservative Republican intent on reaching out to minority communities. When not one right-wing politician showed up at the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech, numerous commentators said, “Jack Kemp would have been there!”
In the 1980s, Kemp pushed the concept of Enterprise Zones to combat urban blight and renew communities. The core of the idea is to — you guessed it! — cut taxes and lower regulation in “distressed areas.” These zones tend to do well at nourishing large corporations when the economy is strong. Otherwise, “There is little evidence demonstrating that this concept is effective at generating new economic development at the local level,” a 1989 study found.
Pushing lower taxes and lenient regulation may have made sense for Kemp — before the lowest taxes and the most lenient regulation in 50 years led to the greatest economic crash in 50 years — but to do so now shows that the GOP has learned nothing from the Great Recession.
When it comes to minority outreach, the GOP is also far behind the Republican Party of Kemp, Bob Dole and even George W. Bush. The GOP of that era didn’t accuse minorities of fraud in order to make it harder to vote. They were proud of Reagan’s immigration reform legacy and they weren’t actively denying health insurance to millions of minorities living in red states.
Senator Paul — who visited Detroit this week to rebrand Enterprise Zones as “Economic Freedom Zones” — has mocked the reality of voter suppression, voted against immigration reform and opposes Medicaid expansion — though the program has already helped reduce the uninsured population in his home state of Kentucky by more than 10 percent.
Paul was not there to commemorate Dr. King’s speech but he did show up in the Motor City just days after a judge said that the pensions of public workers could be voided in Detroit’s bankruptcy, even though Michigan’s Constitution explicitly says they are inviolable.
Imagine if Rand Paul had showed up in Detroit to speak out against theft of retirees’ pensions — an average of just $19,000 a year for millions of workers who mostly do not qualify for Social Security — because honoring promises to people is more important than paying off the Wall Street financiers who engineered the city’s economic downfall.
Rand is the guy who accused the president of being too tough on BP during the largest oil spill in American history. His feelings about corporations resemble how pre-Reformation Catholics felt about the Pope — absolute infallibility.